CORTLAND — The deficit grew bigger and bigger.
Try as the Blue Devils might, the Senecas were too much.
No. 2 Moravia girls basketball was defeated by No. 3 Watkins Glen 64-30 in the Section IV, Class C semifinals Wednesday at SUNY Cortland. It’s the second consecutive year the Blue Devils have been eliminated in the section semifinals.
Grace Wasileski was Moravia’s only player to score in double figures; she finished with 13 points and six rebounds. Sierra Lyon added eight points, while Sam Russell grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
It was a struggle offensively all night for the Blue Devils — Wasileski was the only player on the team to make more than one field goal. She also had Moravia’s single 3-pointer of the game.
In turn, Watkins Glen hit six 3-pointers including four from Ryanna Lamoreaux.
“I think we were a little too jacked up, a little too fast, a little too excited,” Moravia coach John Crossgrove said. “The girls were ready. I don’t think mentally they were rattled. That was pretty unfortunate.”
The Senecas couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game; Watkins Glen went up 13-0 before Moravia scored its first points on two free throws from Lyon 4:51 into the contest. After eight minutes, the Senecas were ahead 19-4.
It didn’t get much better for Moravia in the second quarter — most of the Blue Devils offense came on free throws while Watkins Glen passed the ball around the perimeter and knocked down 3s.
“We missed shots we normally make and some we missed badly, and that led to easy shots for them,” Crossgrove said. “That creates a big spread and a long road to try and make it up. We didn’t really get into our game plan when it’s like that. We were just trying to survive for awhile.”
Down 39-10 at halftime, the Blue Devils played with more desperation in the third quarter. Moravia outscored Watkins Glen 10-2 to start the third quarter, and a 3-pointer from Wasileski brought the Blue Devils within 19 points.
A Herculean comeback wasn’t to be, however. Watkins Glen still led by 22 after the third quarter and held Moravia to five points in the final eight minutes.
Too often for Moravia’s liking, Lamoreaux set up in her spot and was left alone for enough time to get an open look from beyond the arc. More often than not in the first half, her shots fell.
“We try to be a little bit faster,” Crossgrove said. “It helps if we can make some shots, get into the presses we have and not give them so much time. The things that went wrong for us really played into our hands. They were a great team tonight. … Obviously we didn’t play our game. I’ve seen Watkins play a few times this year and that was by far the best I’ve seen them play.”
Instead of playing for the section title, the Blue Devils will be forced to look ahead to next year. Allie Genson, one of Moravia’s most effective scorers, and starting center Maddie Funk will be lost, but the Blue Devils will return key players like Lyon and Waseleski, as well as some junior varsity players looking to make a name for themselves.
“We’re losing a lot of girls but five girls coming back who’ve done a lot of good stuff this year,” Crossgrove. “Obviously Sierra, Grace and Maddy Kelly have been starters for a couple years. Gabby Kehoe and Angie Oliver have done some good things and have been stuck behind some veterans. I think they’ll be ready to go. We have five JVs practicing with us and three of them scored in the last sectional game, and they won the JV championship.
“I’m sure they’d like to get back here and hopefully put on a better performance than we did this year.”
Moravia finishes 19-3.